It has been quite a year from a giant duck floating down the river to the Cake Boss passing out free creations downtown. I would call it a foodie year in general with the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmerman coming to town within months of each other. Not to mention the Barefoot Contessa making a stage appearance at the Benedum. I dare say we are getting quite the reputation as a bustling destination for culinary pleasures.
This is the year Legume made the move from Regent Square to North Oakland. I know this made all the intellectuals happy who are now within walking distance of this sought after restaurant. However, a surprise to all is that their bar Butterjoint seems to have surpassed them in popularity. It is less formal and more economical. They serve Western PA beef burgers ground daily along with homemade pierogies, cheese and lots of pickles from 4:30 p.m. until midnight. It has become a place to see and be seen along with a star sighting or two. You can join the fun 214 N Craig St, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (412) 621-2700. http://www.legumebistro.com.
The hottest new drink in town has to be the Smoke Stack at Industry Public House in Lawrenceville. Bartenders give a nod to the Steel City’s working-class past with this heated bourbon drink made by placing flavored wood chips (try the apple-flavored) atop mesh covering the rim of the glass. They then hit it with a blowtorch to heat the chips and you’re left with a smokin’ cocktail.
For a hands on approach to unique drinks check out Copper Kettle Brewing Company. It is the microbrewery arm of Hough’s Taproom and Brewpub in Greenfield. They walk you through the brewing process step by step from selecting a flavor to measuring grains to pouring your concoction into giant kettles. You are in charge working under expert guidance. You can find them at 557 Greenfield Ave., Greenfield; 412/906-9400, copperkettlepgh.com.
Beechview is in the spotlight again with their fusion gem called Casa Rasta which offers a Mexican-Caribbean fare complete with Jamaican jerk-chicken and chorizo burritos. Chef Antonio Fraga is a native of Mexico City and prepares perfectly seasoned comestibles that will not break the budget. Check it out at 2102 Broadway Ave., Beechview; 412/223-6106, casarastapgh.com.
This became the year of the food truck in Pittsburgh and portable food has never been so posh. Franktuary’s food truck offers up grass fed local hotdogs alongside vegetarian franks. provide are staples. Oh My Grill features natural cheese sandwiches complete with homemade dipping sauce and Saucy Mammas offers up homemade Italian cuisine. It gives the definition of road food a whole new meaning. They each have their own webpages and Twitter feeds but you can track them all down at pghmobilefood.com.
Wild Purveyors appeared on the scene in Lawrenceville to add to the impressive mix of unique storefronts. They sell locally sourced wild edibles and organic produce. This blended family business is run by Tom and Cavan Patterson along with stepbrother Clark. They are genuinely nice guys with a passion for all things local and gained national attention when Andrew Zimnern paid them a visit this year. You can catch a re-run on the Travel Channel of the Pittsburgh based episode of Bizarre Foods. 5308 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/206-WILD, wildpurveyorsmarket.com.
If you want to try something new this year, check out Fukuda’s sushi-rolling class in Bloomfield. Executive chef/co-owner Matt Kemp guides groups of 10 through the ins and outs of sushi while offering a little history along the way. You get to use authentic tools and a Best Sushi winner is crowned in every session. 4770 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield; 412/377-0916, fukudapgh.com.
The list could go on but I am already over my word count and have two parties to attend. I hope this socializing trend continues throughout 2014.